by Julia Evans on August 13, 2011
These comments derive from The Tablet’s Editorial – see below.
In examining, the perverse use of power, which I have been doing since 2005 on the regx2 listing, a number of characteristics have been recurring.
This form of power develops an inside and an outside. Those on the outside are excluded and vilified by those on the inside, as they are not up to standard or, worse, different. Both on the inside and the outside, conflict and envy are the modes of existing. Lacan comments many times on this and I draw your attention to Seminar XVII: The other side of psychoanalysis[i].
And when these systems reach their limit, there is a passage to nothing. A complete break occurs. People are speechless. The knitting has been holed.
Those in the safety and comfort-zone of the inside, assume that the outside can be excluded. They can disconnect from them. Child abusers, murderers, drug addicts, psychopractitioners who refuse to register, are all less human than those on the inside. They do not share a common humanity with them. Agencies such as the police or social workers or therapists are tasked with eliminating the problems.
There comes into place criminal damage for its own sake. The crossing of the limit and going further, is the turn-on – see posts on Lacan’s ‘Kant with Sade’. Role-models are those who are seen to be yielding power – like the politicians – for their own benefit, that is, in isolation from others.
Traditional policing worked and there were also failures. Traditional policing is based on policing by consent not the top-down imposition of rules, standards and much else so beloved by this Government. (I heard today of a young couple whose baby was removed as it was taken from the womb because they are not up to the largely middle-class standards of parenting being imposed). It is only in the government’s top-down imposition of centrally-defined standards where failures are not allowed. Failures belong to humanity which is excluded in this way of governance.
This is where limits come in, again. At its limit, ‘The British doctrine of policing by consent is bound to break down when applied to rioters whose consent is not negotiable on any terms.’ To behave as if total population control is possible is dangerous. To live with uncertainty, within relationships of trust, is difficult as it means giving up going for your own satisfaction, in relation to no-one. You have an absolute right to own …. Or behave….
I suspect that in the coming months, those of us who are concerned about this misuse of power, are going to have to fight the further imposition of top-down standards into our police.
Quotes from: Editorial: Massive shock to the system
The Tablet : 13 August 2011
England has had a profound shock. The riots in London and elsewhere have revealed the presence of a serious social disease, posing threats to the common good for which society was wholly unprepared.
But it was assumed the problems were being managed and contained, by special agencies like youth and community workers, by the police, even by the courts.
But what followed had less and less to do with that initial trigger. It became criminal damage for its own sake, arson for its own sake, and greed for greed’s sake. The trigger in Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and all the other cities affected was simply that of example.
One voice that rings true is that of Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company which works with disturbed and excluded youngsters, who pointed to the existence of a “completely ignored underclass” who have developed a “perverse morality”. She said they did not feel included in mainstream society; their role models were the drug dealers “who are their measure of powerful people.”
Depressingly, Camila Batmanghelidjh’s remarks point to a reality that is almost intractable. Young black men raised in the inner city are drawn into gang culture because they need to belong somewhere. Lacking contact with their own fathers, they need adult male role models. Gangs, with their “perverse morality”, exist because they fulfil those needs.
The presence of gangs explains the impression of coordination and advanced planning that featured in some of the outbreaks of mayhem. But mostly it was opportunistic and random. Many who joined in the looting – white as well as black, middle-aged as well as young – had no apparent connection with the hard core of rioters.
In many areas, potential trouble was thwarted by good police tactics. In other areas, police tactics failed. The tradition of British policing, of minimum force used as a last resort, seemed to inhibit the more vigorous reaction that riots such as these would have attracted elsewhere in the world, including, as has been noticed, Northern Ireland.
One question outstanding, therefore, is whether the risk of further large-scale disorder is a price worth paying, or whether the priority needs to shift to the suppressing of rioting first and foremost, especially where it involves armed robbery and arson. The British doctrine of policing by consent is bound to break down when applied to rioters whose consent is not negotiable on any terms. The state, which has a monopoly in the legitimate use of force, must show emphatically it has the will to use it to restore order on the streets, by whatever means are necessary.
[i] ‘The Other Side of Psychoanalysis: The seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book XVII’ translated by Russell Grigg, W. W. Norton, 2007